Jonas Pedersen: Tuco Marine
It’s not just about high-tech materials or modularity “but both together” Jonas Pedersen of Tuco Marine Group told MJ.
Talking over the recent Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organization (DALO) contract for a pair of hydrographic survey boats, he explained these “had a very complex set of requirements”. Alongside the reasonably high transit speed and workable layout were demands “for low side windage, very high directional stability, minimal noise and absolutely no disturbance for sonar operations at 8 knots”.
This particular combination doesn’t amount to an easy call, but the recent deliveries hit all the buttons including a top speed in excess of 25 knots “and in the end the boats proved capable of taking sonar readings at 14 knots”, added Pedersen.
But, he’s clear that being able to compete in this market takes a very tight rein on the build alongside utilising appropriate materials – and in his view, some candidates are clearly better than others for the specialised and fast-boat market.
“We had both aluminium and composite in production in the early 2000s, but we found that composites were far superior for our purposes: the vibration onboard a fast moving boat tears down the aluminium welds, but composite forms a single structure and so it can take the stress far better.”
Then came a break in the form of EU funding. “This gave us the opportunity to develop demonstrators in continuous feedback with our clients”, he explained. That proved two things: “Firstly, it gave us an opportunity to introduce high tech materials – and showed us the potential of carbon fibre.” While he admits it’s not the cheapest option, it yields robust builds that still have low weight and high fuel efficiency.
Secondly, “we were also able to develop a modular production process”. This was important, he explained, as it “means using standardised components in a far more creative and detailed way than if we simply had a list of designs”.
“For example we know how this hull performs, what this or that cabin weighs; it gives us a way to accurately assess the possible power and fuel consumption options.”
However, all this has to take place inside a very competitive market, and as Pedersen admits, “like many others we’ve been very affected by the oil price”. He added: “Instead of putting all our eggs in the offshore basket, we had to change our focus and start looking into renewables, aquaculture support and so on.”
This opening up has lead to investigating the potential of other evolving technologies: for example, a couple of years ago Tuco’s lightweightProZero hull formed the basis of a new kind of unmanned craft, the combination of range and total energy output being key to the necessary energy efficiency.
But innovation is in no way pie-in-the-sky: “Our core focus has to remain on building effective boats; we have to supply new designs, new tools that do more and actually improve our customers’ business.”
By Stevie Knight
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